CAM acquires new works for permanent collection, welcomes submissions for ‘Illumination’

“The Family” is a 1975 etching by Romare Bearden, newly acquired by CAM in their permanent collection. (Port City Daily/Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — Three new art works are now on display as part of Cameron Art Museum’s permanent collection. “Structure in Bloom” features two new paintings and a photograph acquired by CAM Compass — the museum’s giving society that consists of leadership-level members that steer the evolution of the museum collection, offer educational insight, and help continue programming.

The three new pieces acquired include “The Family” and “Conjunction” by Romare Bearden, as well as “In Casket, Memphis” by Burk Uzzle.

“To have only one or two works by artists of such stature and importance misses opportunity for understanding and connection with their voices, intention, influences and journey,” CAM spokesperson Matt Budd said. “For example, these two additions of work by Bearden reinforce recurrent motifs that visitors can enjoy also in CAM’s previous holdings of work by Bearden, also on view in ‘Structure in Bloom.'”


Bearden was born in Charlotte, NC, in 1911, but left the South and grew up in New York and Pittsburgh. He went on to study in Paris, as well as helped found the Harlem-based art group The Spiral, which formed as a collective of African American artists working in the civil rights movement. Bearden’s early paintings showcase imagery below the Mason Dixon, especially scenes of African American life.

Uzzle’s “In Casket, Memphis,” 1968, featuring the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. (Port City Daily/Burk Uzzle)

“[H]e continued to return to imagery of trains, rural working of the land; shallow space, low-lit interior scenes, and evocative imagery of conjure women and women taking an evening bath,” Budd explained. “Not to overlook the ever-present black cat and pot-bellied stove.”

Also connected to North Carolina is Burk Uzzle, who started his career as a photographer for Raleigh’s News & Observer before moving on to Life magazine as the youngest photographer on staff (age 23). Uzzle is most well-known for capturing iconic images of Woodstock and the civil rights movement.

The photographer arrived in Memphis on Apr. 4, 1968, only hours before Martin Luther King was assassinated. He ended up following the story through the civil rights activist’s funeral, capturing historical footage along the way.

CAM acquired “In Casket, Memphis,” which features Martin Luther King Jr. at his funeral.

The museum will host a screening about Uzzle’s work on Aug. 12, 5:30 p.m. “F11 and Be There” was created by Emmy-winning director Jethro Waters and features exclusive interviews with Uzzle about his photos, techniques and inspiration, all while tackling issues of social justice, civil rights, equality and race.

A special Q&A with Uzzle and documentary filmmaker Waters will follow the screening.

“Each of these works speak to and capture the American experience,” Budd said.

“The Family,” “Conjunction” and “In Casket, Memphis” will be on display alongside photography, painting and intaglio on paper by John Cage, Diego Camposeco, Phil Freelon, Lien Truong and Fred Wilson.

Compass vets works each year for CAM’s permanent collection, as presented by CAM staff and its acquisitions committee. “CAM is unique among all North Carolina museums in that it truly belongs to the community,” Budd added, “with no parent institution upon which it is reliant. So these artworks truly belong to the community.”

Compass has raised over $100,000 for operations of the museum.

“Structure in Bloom” can be viewed through Jan. 30, 2021, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Thursdays, when CAM remains open later until 9 p.m.

In other CAM news

CAM is also approaching the deadline for its annual holiday exhibit, “Illumination,” featuring handmade lanterns that will shine and glow along the walls of the gallery from Nov. 28-Jan. 9, 2021. Proposal submissions are being accepted through Aug. 4, offering artists a chance to win $1,500 in cash prizes. Artists 18 and older can apply from the U.S. and Canada.

RELATED: In Pictures: Cameron Art Museum opens ‘Illumination,’ annual lantern exhibit

The theme for 2021 is rebirth and renewal. After a year of trials and tribulations through Covid-19, the exhibit will illuminate with the intention of fortitude and strength.

“Art helps us to process collective trauma and find hope — and light — in darkness,” CAM noted in a release. “Now, over a year into the pandemic, we see our world in a new light. We have found fresh imagination. There are scars, and, for some, there is significant loss. Yet, we look to the next day with an acquired resilience.”

An opening celebration for “Illumination” will be held Nov. 27 before the exhibit opens to the public on Nov. 28. Numerous interactive programs take place as part fo the exhibit as well, some even allowing the community to build their own lanterns.

All levels of artists can can submit proposals here and send all questions ahead of submissions to mbudd@cameronartmuseum.org.


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